At any time, some people are better positioned than others – financially, socially, emotionally and psychologically – to ride out ups and downs. As a character strengths practitioner, it can feel insensitive to people’s practical needs to recommend focusing on character strengths. Yet I have been having an ongoing conversation with a loved one and in every conversation, she has shown me that character strengths matter.
FINDING A ROLE MODEL IN AN UNEXPECTED PLACE
My loved one is a nurse. On the upside this means that she probably has a tough immune system and that she has well-established hygiene habits that she uses even when on autopilot. On the downside, she is exposed every day.
She told me how she has been leaning heavily on her character strengths:
1. Hope: she is trained to deal with situations that are just plain terrifying for the rest of us. She does not focus on the news cycles; she searches medical articles and up to the minute studies for real data. That real data, while worrying, is reinforcing her sense of hope.
2. Prudence and Perspective: she has been reminding me that we have no serious underlying medical conditions, we live in a safe place with access to the food we need so we are not at high risk. She recommends keeping a safe physical distance from others and at the same time making sure we don’t leave others cut off during this difficult time.
3. Judgment: she has been recommending that we take stock of concerns and prioritize them; then focus on your top two priorities. You cannot take care of everything at once. Then, for those two priorities think about:
• What you have done in the past that has worked.
• Who can help you – even if it is offering moral support?
• Who you can help in some small way?
5. Kindness: she is finding that focusing on others is helping her to divert attention from her own worries. She focuses on small acts of kindness such as an extra call to an isolated patient or leaving a couple of cans of food on a neighbor’s step. Helping others is empowering even when we are struggling ourselves.
6. Kindness 2 (Self-kindness): she keeps reminding me that we cannot stress 24/7 and that we need mental health breaks.
FIVE QUESTIONS TO GROUND YOURSELF:
1. Who is your role model?
2. What is your #1 priority?
3. Who is someone that can help you even in a small way?
4. Who can you help?
5. What character strengths does your role model display?
By Ruth Pearce
Keywords: COVID19, Leadership, Mental Health